The last sprint towards Ushant has begun - with an optimistic crew
Groupama 3 is beginning its final sprint in a steady, 20 knot SW’ly wind. Franck Cammas must now seek to position himself ahead of a cold front, which should push them all the way to the finish off Ushant. However, the trajectory isn’t likely to be direct, initially at least, as the giant trimaran is set to cover a little more ground to the North in order to totally escape the high pressure of the Azores, before swooping on Brittany with the help of a few gybes.
“We’re happy to be back in the breeze because things were still pretty tricky on Tuesday close to the axis of a ridge of high pressure. The grib files had us believe that we could be swallowed up by the light breeze of this high pressure, which might have led to us being stuck for hours or even days! In fact the night proved windier than forecast and we were able to make good our escape via the North. Right now, we’re going to have to deal with a depression, which we hope we’ll be able to play with as far as the finish. It’s going to be windy with quite a lot of gybes to perform. In fact we’re tackling our first manoeuvre right now. The skies have become greyer so the weather’s reminiscent of Brittany, but the temperature is still quite high,” explained Franck Cammas.
Groupama 3 should find herself ahead of another cold front that is moving across Newfoundland at nearly thirty knots. As such, the aim is to stay ahead of the relatively steady SW’ly air flow, by maintaining a speed of close to that of the weather system. Theoretically, the wind should then continue to pump out 25 to 35 knots of breeze as the front approaches. In order not to get shaken up by the waves, which will increase in size over the coming hours, Franck Cammas and his navigator Stan Honey have planned to put in several gybes to stay to the South of this disturbed system.
“The manoeuvres are very smooth after 45 days, but it’s still a tricky moment as it’s in situations such as these that you can damage material. We’re going to have to be careful, especially in 25 knots of breeze. We have to stay on the pace now and not take any risks. However we can do it without forcing ourselves to stay in the low: it’ll all depend on the sea state! We’re confident about the condition of the gear because we’ve preserved the boat throughout, but we’ll be attacking a similar phase to that of the Southern Ocean.”
The ETAs are more reliable now that Groupama 3 has escaped the high pressure hurdle. The current forecast suggests an arrival on Saturday (20 March) afternoon, and then it will take around two to four hours for the giant trimaran to enter the channel taking her into the marina in Brest. The symbolic 50 day barrier could be broken.
“We’ve hooked onto the system, which will continue as far as Brittany. If we don’t have any technical issues, we shouldn’t have any more fears about the weather. We’re now riding the last train of wind which goes all the way to the finish. We must ensure we don’t have any mishaps, but there’s no reason for us to worry. The seas aren’t heavy yet so we can reasonably hang onto some high speeds,” concluded Fred Le Peutrec.
Groupama 3’s log over the last week:
Day 39 (11 March): 255 miles (deficit 309 miles)
Day 40: 288 miles (deficit 473 miles)
Day 41: 503 miles (deficit 483 miles)
Day 42: 445 miles (deficit 403 miles)
Day 43: 482 miles (deficit 216 miles)
Day 44: 401 miles (lead 72 miles)
Day 45: 441 miles (lead 412 miles)
To follow the trimaran, visit www.cammas-groupama.com